Let’s talk strategy. And let’s talk progress. The latter is probably possible without the former, but you’re likely to feel as though you merely got lucky—and you’ll probably fall short of your goals. On the other hand, a well-planned strategy is pretty much a guarantee of success. (Just remember that, somewhat ironically, while you’re working on that optimal strategy, for a time it may seem as though you’re standing still.
That’s all I’m going to say about my long silence on the blog, anyway.)
I first had the opportunity to guide a small branding studio in the formulation of its company strategy years ago. More such projects followed, and each time I led a team in the act of writing down every strand of its professional DNA, the clarity this brought to the business was astonishing. All of a sudden, there would exist this logical and inspired source containing the answers to all possible questions. Now, website copy, one-pager content and employee bios were a simple copy-paste away from completion. Every tactical brief was already halfway filled out. And founders and employees were armed with honed answers to questions from potential clients and other key targets (plus they also had new knowledge of just who these people are).
In the spring, it occurred to me to take myself and my up-and-coming business through a similar professional strategy process. I was interested in defining (at long last...) my own area of expertise—and not by “finally picking a specialty” but rather by synthesizing my skills and interests into a credible, cohesive, multifaceted whole. I had struggled enough with picking a major in college and for two more decades I struggled further, assuming that there existed a narrow field just for me and my mission was to find it. This time, I was curious whether I might in fact discover a common element linking linguistics, writing, photography, design and workflow ergonomics. Thus, I decided it was worth taking the long way to the ultimate shortcut toward updating my website, pitching my business, conducting my projects and planning my career.
A good four months (and six mostly single-spaced pages) later, I’m thrilled to report that I’m blown away with my results. Not only have I found the commonalities among my different disciplines, but I’ve also realized that in each I ultimately perform a variation on the same overarching theme. Since you asked—I remove the unnecessary to reveal what is relevant. My brand values, in turn, are the following: Simplicity. Clarity. Logic. Purpose. Functionalism. Precision. Order. Quality. Purity. Truth. Poise. Sometimes—irony. And they’re in there just like that, each its own microsentence, actually embodying the characteristics referenced in the preceding section (a smidge too formal, perhaps; very clear and ordered; often seen as dramatic...).
In addition to arriving at what I think is a pretty useful mission statement and list of values, I’ve also done the vast work of distilling my education, experience and services into a highly useful dossier, and I’ve made course-altering discoveries about my category, competition, target, advantage and brand behavior.
And while I was passively and actively engaged in this illuminating process, I discovered another thing: nearly everyone I talked to about what I was doing expressed a real hunger for doing something similar for their own professional purposes. And while I’m probably surrounded by a more-then-average number of creative generalists in their forties who are still trying to figure out what they want to do when they grow up—I’m pretty sure it’s a zeitgeist thing, too. Because in the Warsaw of Plac Zbawiciela in 2014, it’s en vogue to be a this-slash-that, and it’s definitely catching on to try and be in business for yourself strategically and with mindfulness.
Another interesting thing I noted is that as I progressed through the sequence of strategic questions and prompts, I gained insight about the questions and prompts, thus developing the strategic guide itself in tandem with creating the content. Of course it’s the kind of thing that lends itself to feedback loopery every time it is deployed, so I’m not about to call it a final version, but it is a solid version, and if you’d like to give it a try and apply it to your professional brand or anything else you’d like to define, understand and render optimal—go ahead and help yourself to either language below.
And if your interested in the specifics of the Company of Natalia Osiatynska brand strategy—just let me know, and we can meet for a coffee or a Skype and I’ll walk you through it. Really, don’t be shy; I’m pretty sure this is going to be my favorite thing to talk about for a long time to come.